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Wedding Report

I am still basking in the glow of a most perfect weekend. I will try to write in more detail about my son's wedding at a later date, but for now I will just post a few pictures. However, if you are planning a wedding in the College Station area the Astin Mansion is an ideal venue for a rehearsal dinner or a reception. St. Mary's at Texas A&M is a phenomenal parish. The church is beautiful and the support for Catholic students is unparalleled. Fr. Edward Horkan from the Diocese of Arlington (VA) journeyed down to Texas to preside at the wedding and was absolutely amazing. I heard at least a dozen people comment to either him or to me about his wonderful homily. There are too many people to praise and thank for me to try and list everyone right now. I am still offering prayers of thanksgiving to God for the many blessings He showered upon us this weekend.

My son and his bride at the rehearsal dinner


My four at the rehearsal dinner



Cutting the cake with my son's Corps of Cad…

Stop the Abortion Mandate

If you have not registered for this webcast, do so now! Even if you cannot listen to the live event, you will be able to listen to a recording. Read more here.

Countdown!

We are now one week away from the rehearsal dinner and 8 days away from my oldest son's wedding. Blogging is likely to be light! I will try to post pictures soon.

The Ineffable Truth of Christmas

By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.

Every Sunday I dutifully say these words and bow. These words should not just prompt a habitual nod. I should tremble in awe. God became Man.

Advent is a time to remember the power of these words. The Church sets aside this liturgical season for us to be quiet and still. We need to let the reality of the Incarnation seep into our consciousness. How can I appreciate that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son if I am rushing from here to there leaving the echoes of anxiety laden howls in my wake?

Last year I spent Advent and Christmas with my right hand and arm in a cast after having surgery to repair a horrific fracture. When I reflect on this, I realize there are some significant lessons to bring forth to this year when I am able bodied. Christ's birth will be proclaimed whether I send out one hundred Christmas cards or no Christmas cards. The angels will sing His praises whether my voice is joi…

Manhattan Declaration

Join your voice to this effort! This statement initially signed by over 150 Catholics, Orthodox, and evangelical Christians has grown to a movement with over 90,000 signatures. This statement affirms the principles of the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious marriage.

New mammogram recommendations are actually a victory of science over politics

Before you read this post, take the time to read the response I wrote to RAnn's comment on the last post. The reason for this is that I mentioned the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) there as well. This is an old entity that is doing what politicians have neither the spine nor the competence to do--defining what is medically necessary or prudent to do. If you read through the USPSTF recommendations, you will be surprised to see how little the recommendations entail. A lot of the preventive testing we do is based on giving the patient peace of mind. It is a luxury, not a necessity.

The USPSTF analysis of the benefits of various breast cancer screening modalities just hit the airwaves. It would be a mistake to lump this analysis in with the Obamacare rationing arguments. The lack of efficacy in breast self-exams and the questionable benefit of mammograms for women in their forties is not new information. This has been known for at least a decade. Ten years ago I got dirty…

A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life care

My son had surgery this past Friday. All went well. However, as part of the admission process I was handed a booklet on advanced medical directives. Imagine my surprise when I read that nutrition and hydration are considered "life-prolonging" therapies and therefore should be withheld so that you don't prolong the dying process. This is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. Read more about this here and find out what you can do to protect yourself from the immoral end-of-life care in many secular institutions.

Have Catholic bishops abandoned pro-lifers on health care reform?

Judie Brown at the American Life League has issued a statement strongly critical of the US Catholic bishops because they have dropped vigorous opposition to the House health care bill now that the Stupak amendment has passed. I think the bishops are steering a cautious but wise course. They speak stridently on matters of morals but defer on issues of prudential judgment. This preserves their voices as those of spiritual leaders rather than partisan shills. Read more here.

Annual Veterans Day Post--Mother of a Soldier

I published the following on Veterans Day the last two years. It seems fitting to publish it again. The picture is my oldest son. He is currently stationed at Ft. Hood. After the recent tragedy there, I again ask that you keep him and all our military in your prayers. Consider adding this Rosary to your devotions.

Using the sorrowful mysteries:
Agony in the garden: for deployed soldiers and their safety
Scourging at the pillar: for wounded soldiers and for their healing
Crowning with thorns: for deceased soldiers and repose of their souls
Carrying of the cross: for families of deployed, wounded and deceased soldiers, and for strength and comfort.
Crucifixion: for our nation, for the victims of war and for peace in the world.
And now for an encore presentation of Mother of a Soldier:




Yesterday evening I received this picture from my son. He is a senior at Texas A&M and in the
Corps of Cadets. If all goes as planned he will be commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. Just last w…

Mattie Stepanek the Messenger

I was not sure how I would feel reading the story of someone who idolized Jimmy Carter and Oprah. I can now tell you that the story of Mattie Stepanek as told by his mother Jeni Stepanek is a must-read for teens and adults alike. My full review of the book Messenger is here.

The story of Mattie Stepanek has very little to do with politics or ideology. It has everything to do with understanding that every life is valuable. Every life has a purpose ordained by God. The challenge is to find and live that purpose.

Put this book on your reading list. It can be life-changing.



(I did receive a free review copy of this book)

Prayers Please

Please say a prayer for all those suffering from the deaths and injuries suffered at Ft. Hood. My son is stationed there. He texted me to say he is fine, just still locked down. It is a tragedy. May all affected feel the mercy and healing of God's grace.

Why I will skip the Nov 22 CCHD second collection

I know that many worthy causes are supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. It is the unworthy causes that are also supported that create an issue for me. I've given up on this sort of aggregate giving. I am giving directly to charities and cutting out the middle man.




While this video suggests putting an acorn in the CCHD collection plate, I like the idea of this coupon instead.

USCCB is calling for urgent action from all Catholics on health care reform

The USCCB is asking every Catholic to get involved in fighting current health care legislation. Full information is available here. Take action now!

Legal middle ground for same-sex marriage

If I were going to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, I would oppose it. Marriage is a sacramental relationship between one man and one woman. Period. Those who try to portray other relationships as equivalent to marriage undermine the sacred institution of marriage and weaken the institution of the family. A weak family leads to an even weaker culture.

However, since some communities including our nation's capital, Washington D.C., seem hell-bent on calling these other relationships "marriage", I appreciate the work of an interdenominational group of attorneys to work for the protection of religious liberty. University of Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett among others have sent a letter to the D.C. City Council outlining the deficiencies in religious liberty protection that are present in the current same-sex marriage legislation currently before the Council.

This issue illustrates the challenge of living as a faithful Catholic in a secular world. Not all Catholi…

Why we need a Vatican investigation into women's religious orders

Say a prayer for this misguided sister. Perhaps a request for St. Dominic's intercession would be appropriate. It seems Sr. Donna Quinn, OP, of Chicago has been volunteering for at least six years as an abortion clinic escort.

In addition to her support of abortion, Sr. Donna Quinn has publicly attacked the Catholic Church. According to Lifesite News:
In a 2002 address to the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Sr. Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as "immoral": "I used to say: 'This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,'" she said. "Then later I said, 'This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I'd better work to change it.' More recently, I am saying, 'All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.'"Quinn called gender discrimination "the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world,&q…

The paperwork is healthy--the patient, not so much

An update to my previous post: At this point, I have figured out that the referral for my son to follow up on his intermittent testicular torsion was for the urologist to see him but not to treat him. The reason for this is that the doctor who saw him in the emergency room did not write down testicular torsion on either the record or the referral. He wrote down "Mom wants a referral, please evaluate." In order to get the necessary surgery, I have to take my son in to the primary care doctor. At that point they will put in the necessary referral. They will then look at this referral with no regard for the previous referral or evaluation by the civilian urologist. Since this is a new referral, they will first decide if there is room in the military facility for him to be seen. (This was done with the last referral and it was determined that there was not room for him to be seen.) If they determine that they cannot see him in the military facility, they will put his referral i…

Government Health Care in action--or inaction as the case may be

Okay, now see how government health care works. My son is sitting on a medical time bomb. He has had two episodes of intermittent testicular torsion. He has to always be within six hours of a facility that can perform emergency surgery. The doctor who saw my son in the DeWitt Army hospital emergency room did not initiate a referral to a urologist until I requested it. He was going to discharge my son with no specific follow-up instructions. Because I am a doctor and demanded the referral he complied. It took one month to get the referral approved and an appointment scheduled. He saw the urologist who agreed that my son needed to have the minor procedure of orchiopexy done in a timely fashion to prevent emergent surgery in the future. However, when he went to schedule the surgery he found out that the doctor in the emergency room had checked the wrong box on the referral request. A request for a second opinion was submitted instead of a referral for evaluation and treatment. Because o…

It's About Parents

Patrick Welsh teaches English at T.C.Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. You may recognize T.C.Williams as the high school spotlighted in Remember the Titans. Welsh has an opinion piece in today's Washington Post that just keeps floating around in my head. It is entitled Making the Grade Isn't About Race. It's About Parents. Here is a snippet.:

"Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"

In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class -- and was constantly distracting other students when he did -- shot back: "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."
Another student angrily challenged me: "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us." When I did, not one hand went up.

I was stunned. These were good kids; I had grown a…

Diocese of Arlington

Most of my children have progressed from the high school youth group stage to the young adult ministry stage. Fortunately, the Diocese of Arlington offers a wonderful range of opportunities for young adults to gather for faith and fellowship. Even if you are not in the area and cannot attend these events, check out the links for Theology on Tap. Many of the presentations are archived as podcasts and provide a great resource for adult religious education.

Live our faith in joy, hope and truth

Fr. Troy Gately, of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Houston offered a gem of a letter in this past Sunday's parish bulletin. Read the whole thing, but take special note of this last paragraph:

In a world that promotes values and choices diametrically opposed to Christian virtue and Catholic faith, there is an increasing need for strong and clear commitment among those who believe. Reckless consumerism, unbridled materialism, greed, narcissism and moral relativism will in the end be shown for what they are but not before leading to the destruction of countless lives. As Catholics there is always the tendency to be critics and naysayers. This tendency must be avoided. Rather, we are at our best when we serve the world with our message of hope. We serve best when we offer a positive, loving and life giving alternative – Jesus Christ! This is the message of Pope Benedict. All one has to do is merely look at the titles of his three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) 2005, S…

University of Notre Dame once again compromises Catholic identity

The Notre Dame Observer reports that the University of Notre Dame Student Activities Office funded trips for five students to participate in the gay rights demonstration in Washington D.C. This demonstration was primarily aimed at supporting gay marriage. How an ostensibly Catholic university could support this protest against clear Catholic teaching is beyond comprehension.

Fr. Jenkins claims there is an unquestionable commitment to Catholic teachings at Notre Dame and he is going to prove it by personally marching in the upcoming March for Life. He can make the entire March for Life on his knees and prove nothing. If the University of Notre Dame continues to flaunt the Magisterial teachings of the Church, it is not a Catholic university. It may be a university with a large number of Catholic students and lots of Catholic influenced art and architecture. However, that does not make it a Catholic university.

Another example of health care by committee

In light of this story, take a look at what the British National Health Service (Which President Obama looks to as a model for US health care) is doing to the elderly:

Ball, 42, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, said: “My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS. ” Fenton was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. Although Ball acknowledged that her mother was very ill she was astonished when a junior doctor told her she was going to be placed on the plan to “make her more comfortable” in her last days. Ball insisted that her mother was not dying but her objections were ignored. A nurse even approached her to say: “What do you want done with your mother’s body?” On January 19, Fenton’s 80th birthday, Ball says her mother was feeling better and chatting to her family, but it took another four days to persuade doctors to give her artificial feeding. Fenton is now bein…

Rules are Rules

The media outlets have been covering the story of 6-year-old Zachary Christie all weekend. It seems that Zachary was suspended from school for 45 days because his Cub Scout eating utensil included a knife. This is not a Swiss Army knife or pen knife. This is an eating utensil knife. It is meant to spread peanut butter, not cut a steak. However, rules are rules. Little Zachary is being sentenced to 45 days in the Christina Delaware School District reform school. The New York Times has the story:

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school…

…Still, some school administrators argue that it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats, and that th…

Remedy for a dog's grumbly tumbly

Athena, our 2-year-old labradinger

I once saw an add for health insurance for pets. It featured a picture of a dog and the words, "In spite of my keen sense of smell, I do not always make the best digestive decisions." While I did not purchase health insurance for my dog, I can concur that my dog does commit amazing dietary indiscretions. Let's just say that there is very little she finds inedible. Cardboard and paper seem to be a primary food group. True to her Labrador heritage, her digestive track is amazingly resilient. However, she does occasionally suffer from her poor snack choices.

I have no idea what caused her distress a couple of nights ago. Perhaps it was the acorns that are in abundance around our neighborhood. Perhaps she took in one too many empty cereal boxes. In any case, she was miserable. She wasn't vomiting or having diarrhea. All she wanted to do was go outside and eat grass. Her tummy was loudly rolling and gurgling. Every time she came inside she…

A Catholic guide to End of Life care

I will be presenting a talk on end-of-life care at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale at 6pm this evening. I would love to see you there, but if you cannot attend, please say a prayer that all goes well.

I am also available to present this topic or other Catholic bioethical topics to your parish group if you are within a day's drive of Washington DC.

40 Days for Life is Underway!

40 Days for Life is a three-prong program. Everyone can participate in one way or another. Begin with fasting and prayer to end abortion. If you are able, join one of the prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic. Finally, support community outreach to educate others about the evil of abortion and support community programs that provide alternatives to abortion. Read more here.

President Obama's credibility put to the test in today's Senate votes

The Senate votes on amendments to the Baucus Bill that would codify what President Obama claimed in his address to Congress: no federal dollars will fund abortion. So far all such efforts have failed. The President has offered no support for these efforts. In fact, his staff has explicitly refused to support them. Right now his words look pretty empty.

Since today is the Feast of the Archangels, a St. Michael's prayer in support of the amendments that would defeat evil would be appropriate.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Convergining Roads

I am now back from another trip to Texas. This one combined business with pleasure. I visited with my parents in Houston and saw my daughter at Rice. Then my mother and I made a trip to College Station to work on plans for the rehearsal dinner for my oldest son's wedding. It seems like only yesterday that I was announcing the engagement and suddenly the December wedding is nearly upon us. For those of you who like this sort of thing, here is where we are having the dinner. This is a very old home in Bryan Texas. I was told this was the "city" home of the Astin family. Those with Texas A&M roots will recognize the name Astin. It is the same family for which Astin Hall is named. The house's history is somewhat unusual. After it was no longer a family home, it became a frat house. These frat boys must have been very different than those depicted in Animal House because they left all the original decorative moldings, hard wood floors, and light fixtures intact. The f…

Baucus health care proposal pressures physicians to minimize care to the elderly

The National Right to LIfe Committee has released a statement opposing the Baucus health care reform proposal. It is not surprising to see that the first reason for this opposition is the inclusion of federal funding for abortion in the legislation. However, the Medicare provisions are equally worrisome. This bill will financially penalize physicians who are in the top 10% of medical resource use for Medicare patients. There is no evaluation as to whether the care rendered by these physicians is appropriate. There is no evaluation of the physicians who fall in the bottom 10% of medical resource use to see if they are providing inadequate care. Even if all physicians cut their utilization of Medicare in half, 10% of all physicians utilizing Medicare resources will be penalized. Therefore, every physician will be under pressure to do as little for the elderly as possible.

Archbishop Wuerl speaks on health care

I've just published an article on Archbishop Wuerl's additon to the health care debate. It is important to note that Archbishop Wuerl, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as a host of other bishops who have spoken out on the issue are articulating core principles that must guide health care reform. They are not offering specific programs. The details of the implementation of health care reform is a matter of prudential judgment.

President Obama lies?

While I do not like shouting matches and I think Representative Joe Wilson should have exercised more self-control during the President's speech, Joe Wilson's exclamation of "He lies!" was not necessarily inaccurate. Take a look at this article in today's Wall Street Journal:

To highlight abusive practices, Mr. Obama referred to an Illinois man who "lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about." The president continued: "They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it." Although the president has used this example previously, his conclusion is contradicted by the transcript of a June 16 hearing on industry practices before the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The deceased's sister testified that the insurer reinstated her brother's coverage following intervention by the Illinoi…

September 11: Historical date or personal memory?

September 11. For most children in elementary school, this date has very little meaning. It is another historical marker, but has no more personal relevance than any other event that older people muse upon: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, President Kennedy's assassination, the Challenger explosion.

I, on the other hand, find the relevance of this day intensely personal. In 1992, I watched as my husband deployed for what was then known as Desert Shield. It would become Desert Storm. He was an F-16 pilot. I knew there would be no hanging back in safe zones for him. I was left at home with three children, ages 4,3, and 1, and with my own duffle bag packed and ready to deploy. I was an Air Force doctor. That turbulent time rocked both my husband and I to our core. By the grace of God, we emerged as stronger Catholics and better parents. Our marriage grew stronger. Everything we loved had been threatened, forcing us to appreciate what is truly important. Still, I would not wish such an experien…

"Personally Opposed" Bishops?

Are American bishops really doing their own "personally opposed but can't impose" act when it comes to pro-abortion politicians? Read the words of Fr. Roger J. Landry (H/T Jay Anderson) and you may very well answer that question with an emphatic "yes". Read his entire article, but this excerpt concisely sums up the indictment:

When we examine the education-alone approach of pastors with respect to pro-choice politicians, we see that it has basically become a personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position as well. There’s obviously a clear personal repugnance on the part of pastors to the pro-choice Catholic politicians’ separation between faith and moral action, schizophrenia between private and public personality, and lip service to the Church’s teachings. Many pastors have sought to exercise their teaching office, stating forthrightly what abortion is and what the responsibilities of all legislators are with respect to it. All of their teaching, however, has…

Fr. Leo in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay

My favorite cooking priest is at it again. Fr. Leo Patalinghug has been challenged to a steak fajita throwdown by the Food Network's Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Read more here.

More Indoctrination Instead of Education

I am certain that if my children were just now approaching school age I would seriously consider home schooling. As it is, I am grateful I still just have one in high school. On Tuesday, September 8, President Obama will present an address to all students. President Obama is a political figure. He espouses ideas that are contrary to my family's values. I would strongly resent my young, impressionable child being part of a captive audience and subjected to political propaganda. Why do I think that might be part the agenda for this event? The Department of Education study guide for teachers that accompanies this activity includes the following questions:

Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

That is a very good question. The truth of the matter is these officials were elected by the people. If there is any listening going on, these officials should…

The Slippery Slope of Sexual Immorality Continues

Following the lead of the Episcopalians, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently voted to allow their clergy to be in "committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships." This did not sit well with Reverend Debra Haffner, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. She objects to the requirement for the relationships to be committed and life-long:

All of this is excellent news for same-sex couples, of course, but the emphasis on "committed, lifelong relationships" leaves out the single minister, the divorced minister, the widowed minister -- whether gay, straight, or bisexual -- who must still adhere to a standard of celibacy unless their partner status changes.
I've long believed that the major sexuality problem denominations face is that they are unable to acknowledge that celibacy until marriage doesn't apply to most single adults. There are more than 75 million American adults who are single -- more than at any time in history. We are marrying l…

How to become a Catholic

In addition to school and CCD classes, most parishes are also beginning RCIA classes. Here is a quick summary about how to become a Catholic.

Speaking of CCD, I can guarantee you that your parish religious education office is in need of teachers and other volunteers. If you are reading Catholic blogs, you are already light years ahead of most Catholics in the pews. Remember God does not call the equipped. He equips the call. Pray about it, then respond to His call.

National Endowment for the Arts Assembling a Propaganda Machine?

I love the arts but I really think they should be funded more by private philanthropy than by the government. Patrick Courrielche participated in an interesting NEA conference call that appeared to be pushing for NEA grants to artists that would create work to further the Obama Administration agenda:

The NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts. That is right, the largest funder of the arts in the nation - a fact that I’m sure was not lost on those that were on the call, including myself. One of the NEA’s major functions is providing grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA has also historically shown the ability to attract “matching funds” for the art projects and foundations that they select. So we have the nation’s largest arts funder, which is a federal agency staffed by the administration, with those that they potentially fund together on a conference call discussing taking action on issues under vigorous national debate. Does there appear to be any potential…

Feast of St. Monica Blessings!

Happy Feast of St. Monica to you. I received the Sacraments in a rather unconventional way so I was confirmed at age three. There was no preparation. My mother just took me to the church, I knelt at the communion rail, and the bishop eventually came by and gave my face a little slap. About all I remember is that my hat fell off when the bishop slapped my face.

Because of this, I never did pick out a Confirmation name. But if I were to choose one now, it would be Monica. I refer to St. Monica as the patron of nagging mothers since she followed St. Augustine to Rome and then to Milan and kept after him for seventeen years until he became a Christian. She is a constant reminder that the ultimate mission of every mother is to first and foremost pray for our children and then to do everything within our power to help them get to Heaven.

Fortunately, none of my children has caused me the heartache that Augustine caused Monica. Whenever I am feeling my maternal efforts are inadequate, I think …

The Perfect Reflection on Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy died last night. I feel a great deal of conflict when I reflect on what Senator Kennedy represented to America and to Catholics. I think The Anchoress offers the perfect reflection:
I expect, though, that beyond health care, and beyond the inevitable hagiography and histrionics in the press (and the competition between the Clintons and the Obamas as to who can best-use this moment) Ted Kennedy’s death will do what every Kennedy death does: shine a spotlight on Catholicism, its rituals and rites and rubrics. There will be lots of people -both Catholic and non-Catholic- who will declare themselves “shocked and scandalized” that Kennedy would be given a Mass of Christian Burial. Some will declare that he should have been “thrown out of the church” a long time ago; others will insist that his Funeral Mass brings shame to us. Some will focus on his personal sins -the assumed repentance or lack of same (of which they will likely have no real knowledge, just hunches) a…